A recent report has unveiled alarming statistics about workplace discrimination in the UK, with a staggering 7.3 million adults having faced discrimination due to their identity.

The report, titled “Investigating Intersectionality,” conducted by global research experts Savanta, surveyed nearly 5,000 consumers across the US and Europe (UK, France, Sweden, Germany, and the Netherlands).

The report reveals that 22 percent of UK employees have experienced discrimination in their workplace based on their identity.

This figure, while concerning, is comparatively lower than the average across the surveyed countries, where 28 percent of individuals reported experiencing discrimination.

Where is it felt the most?

The countries with the highest rates of workplace discrimination were the US (33%) and Sweden (32%).

However, the impact of discrimination is felt even more acutely among under-represented groups. Within the UK, 45 percent of individuals from Black backgrounds, 41 percent from Asian backgrounds, and 33 percent from the LGBTQIA+ community reported experiencing workplace discrimination, shedding light on the diverse range of experiences faced by these groups.

Despite ongoing efforts by employers and the government, the report highlights that 42 percent of UK employees believe that inequalities in pay and promotion persist within their organisations. This figure, slightly below the average across the surveyed countries (45%), is more pronounced among individuals who are disproportionately affected by these inequalities. Notably, 58 percent of individuals from Black backgrounds felt they had been passed over for promotions, compared to the overall UK average of 24 percent.

The organisational impact

The issue has serious implications for organisations, as 24 percent of UK employees reported that they have already left or are considering leaving their jobs due to discomfort in expressing their views. This trend raises concerns about a potential loss of valuable talent, especially at a time when the job market is competitive and salaries are rising.

In response to these challenges, many UK employers are taking proactive steps to foster inclusivity within their organisations. The report indicates that 45 percent of employees report their companies having a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) task force or team – higher than the average of 38 percent for all surveyed countries. Furthermore, 50 percent of respondents stated that their companies provided workplace training focused on DE&I in the past year, compared to the average of 42 percent.

Encouragingly, the efforts of employers appear to be yielding positive results. Among individuals whose employers had established DE&I task forces, 84 percent attested to their effectiveness in implementing change. Moreover, 70 percent of respondents affirmed the efficacy of DE&I training offered by their employers.

What helps?

In addition to these tangible initiatives, UK employers are also addressing social issues and fostering a respectful environment. Approximately 51 percent of employees noted that their employers address pertinent social issues as they arise, and 47 percent stated that their employers validate all gender identities. Notably, 62 percent of respondents agreed that their employers create an environment that respects all religious beliefs and identities.

Commenting on the report, Sadia Corey, VP – Client Development at Savanta, emphasised the need for continued progress: “It’s worrying to learn that such a high number of employees have felt discriminated against in their place of work – with many under-represented groups having similar experiences. While much discrimination comes as a result of unconscious bias among workers, managers, and company policy, there is clearly more to be done to ensure that the workplace is a safe space for everyone. The good news is that there looks to be some progress amongst UK employers. Employees recognise that most employers are working hard to resolve these issues, and while there is still work to do, senior leaders should be relieved that their DE&I initiatives are starting to make a difference.”





Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.